How do you recognize excellence in a performance-driven organization when typical high results may not be possible due to factors out of our control? This is the scenario Lucas Group, along with many other recruiting firms, found itself in last year.
At most recruitment firms, recruiting performance is tracked by the number of placements and cumulative fees generated in a given year. KPIs such as the volume of daily connections, in-person meetings, new jobs/engagements generated, and interview counts are closely tracked, and recruiters are recognized based on these performance metrics. When the economy is robust, recruiters at organizations that follow these KPIs can predict their results and perform well. But when there’s a downturn or other extraordinary circumstances, like COVID, exclusively following a metrics-based approach for performance recognition doesn’t make sense.
Recognition Gets Personal: Putting the “Human” Back in Recruiting
This past year truly highlighted how Lucas Group is different from the standard executive recruiting firm. For much of 2020, there were limited opportunities for the instant gratification that comes with a great commission or client success. In-person meetings and networking, a key component of recruiting, were on hold. Many of the law firms or companies where we routinely placed attorneys and legal counsel instituted hiring freezes.
At Lucas Group, we stayed true to our purpose and core values. Instead of focusing on KPIs and monthly placement goals, we shifted to what we consider to be at the very heart of successful recruiting: listening and seeking to impact lives in a positive way. To put it in simple sales terms: we weren’t trying to “make a deal.” Just like in pre-pandemic years, there was no “hidden agenda” with someone trying to get a resume or a commission. Instead, we sought to hear and empathize with each candidate or client. Everyone has goals, dreams, and loved ones they’re worried about, and everyone can benefit from a friendly ear to listen in a time of need.
We focused not only on professional needs but also personal ones. People were frustrated, scared and anxious for their future. Sometimes we were helping a company find a great new hire. But just as often, we were helping a job seeker or hiring manager find creative solutions to challenges that had nothing to do with recruiting. We didn’t earn recognition or large commissions from these conversations, and that’s just fine. The thanks for being a confidant, friend and advisor we received time after time was enough of a reward.
Winning Together: Celebrating Success for Candidates, Companies and Recruiters
A year later, our economy is once again strong, and my team has never been busier. Traditional KPIs – calls, quality searches, new candidates, placements – are off the charts. While I’m grateful for our current success, I’m even more grateful that we never lost our purpose and human-first perspective. It’s extremely rewarding to support professionals going through career transitions and help them unlock new opportunities. And we can’t be successful at this if we lose the humanity behind our approach.
This shared commitment to our common humanity extends to our internal rewards and recognition program. You don’t need to step on anyone else at Lucas Group to be rewarded for your performance. Each of our recruiters is on an individual career path with milestones and rewards calibrated to this path. We’re all competitive, and this healthy competition drives all of us to be even more successful. This is reflected in how we recognize success.
One of the most important awards at Lucas Group isn’t for hitting a performance goal– it’s about being someone who puts others first, goes out of their way to make every interaction positive, and creates an inclusive environment. The Judy Shanholtz/Andrew Hollit Memorial Award is named in honor of two special Lucas Group associates who tragically passed away early but left an indelible mark on our organization. Art Lucas, our founder, started the award and to this day, the entire company votes on who should be the annual award recipient. It is by far the most admired and coveted Award by all employees at Lucas Group.
We’re also passionate about recognizing team success. To win the “Branch of the Year” award, for example, everyone on the team needs to collaborate and support each other. By celebrating individual wins and a team’s cumulative success, we’re delivering a triple win: fulfilling opportunities for our candidates, exceptional new hires that drive success for our clients, and exciting growth for our recruiters. It’s a win-win-win.
Has your company recalibrated its approach to rewards and recognition since COVID? I invite you to share what’s working for your team in the comments below.